INTERVIEW WITH REBEL MISTRESS
Date: August 31, 2015
Photos: Robert Eklund and Jari Kantola (band photos)
THE AMOUNT OF GREAT MUSIC THAT KEEPS BEING GENERATED BY NEW BANDS IS MIND BLOWING AND YOU CAN ADD REBEL MISTRESS TO THAT LIST. THE YOUNG SWEDISH ROCKERS HAVE JUST RELEASED THEIR DEBUT EP WHICH CONSISTS OF THREE AMAZING SONGS. MOST PEOPLE HAVE HEARD THE QUOTE BEHIND EVERY GREAT MAN, THERE’S A GREAT WOMAN. IN REBEL MISTRESS’ CASE, IT SEEMS THAT BEHIND THE THREE GUYS IN THE BAND LIES A GREAT WOMAN WHO IS LEADING THE CHARGE IN GETTING THE BAND KNOWN OUTSIDE OF THEIR NATIVE COUNTRY. SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH ALL FOUR MEMBERS OF REBEL MISTRESS TO GET INSIGHT INTO THE THOUGHT PROCESS OF A RELATIVELY NEW BAND.
Sleaze Roxx: How did Rebel Mistress get to be formed?
Daniel Westerlund: I found Marcus on a site on the internet. A month later, I found Marielle on the same site. When our first drummer left the band, I asked Oskar to join us. So I’m the one who put together the band.
Marcus Skantz: I had put up an ad for myself on bandfinder.se. I got a message from Daniel, went to the audition and then I was in!
Marielle Tengström: I had been thinking about joining a band for a while, and then I came across Daniel’s ad. I didn’t have any expectations about it because they didn’t have any music or anything to show me. But I showed up for the audition and I had a good feeling about the group and the music, and luckily they gave me the spot!
Sleaze Roxx: Drummer Oskar Hallberg was the last member to join Rebel Mistress. What was the process for Oskar to join the group?
Marcus Skantz: We had no drummer. Daniel said “I know a guy” so he called Oskar in to tryout, we hit it off and that was it.
Daniel Westerlund: It was pretty standard and nothing fancy. I asked Oskar to come and jam with us and that’s pretty much the story.
Oskar Hallberg: I knew Daniel for a long time and I asked if I could be in the band when I knew they were looking for a new drummer.
Sleaze Roxx: There seems to be a growing trend for new bands to release EPs with only a few songs on it. Rebel Mistress’ self-titled debut EP is no exception. Why are there only three songs on Rebel Mistress’ debut EP?
Daniel Westerlund: I don’t remember if there was any particular reason there’s only three tracks! Maybe we had limited time. I really do not recall.
Marcus Skantz: We only had about three songs done at the time and originally it was going to be a demo. But one thing led to another and it wound up as an EP.
Oskar Hallberg: We felt that the three songs were the best of the ones we had.
Marielle Tengström: We thought that those three songs were the best and we didn’t want to record more songs just to have more songs. I have also seen a trend where bands spread their material in small releases more often now with smaller EPs, more singles, more lyric videos and so on instead of doing a full-length album and nothing for the next year. We may have more songs on the next one though.
Sleaze Roxx: What is the story behind each of the three songs’ lyrics on the ‘Rebel Mistress’ EP?
Marcus Skantz: “Hazy” was the first song we wrote, before Marielle joined. Daniel came up with the riff and we liked it so we made a simple, straight forward song. “Drag You Down” was — if I remember correctly — supposed to be our kind of stand up for rock ‘n’ roll song but it ended up a bit different. “Walk On Glass” — I don’t know. Daniel wrote most of it and it sounded good so we finished it.
Marielle Tengström: I write all the lyrics for the songs and it’s the part of song creating that I enjoy the most. We all agreed that Rebel Mistress was going to be all about sex, drugs and rock n roll so that’s what I’ve been writing about. I almost always make up a scenario in my mind — it’s like writing stories! If all the lyrics were from my life, I would have been the biggest party animal and drama queen in the the world! “Walk On Glass” is about how you can get trapped in a destructive relationship with someone who’s slowly tearing you down, but you stay because you’re in love. Marcus likes to call it “Fifty Shades Of Grey” (laughs). Both “Hazy” and “Drag You Down” are just about partying and having a good time. But if I’m going to get into details, “Hazy” is written from the perspective that people around you want to “save” you and make you stop living the way you do, but you don’t giva a shit because you just want to party while you’re young. When I wrote “Drag You Down,” I wanted to do a “Hotel Carlifornia” plot, but regarding a pub instead of a hotel — about a boy who gets a crazy party night with a woman who’s not like the girls in school.
Sleaze Roxx: You all seem to be relatively young. How old are each of you and what was the music scene like when you were growing up?
Marielle Tengström: I’m 24 and one of my favourites from the ’90s was No Doubt. Gwen Stefani was cooler than Mariah Carey! My dad introduced me to ’80s rock and I realised pretty quickly that this wasn’t the most popular music at that time by looking at my friends and listening to the radio. My favourite album when I was 16 in 2007 was Ozzy’s latest album ‘Black Rain.’
Daniel Westerlund: I’m 19 years old. I think the rock scene is not very huge really. There’s probably a lot more metal bands than rock n roll and hard rock bands like Rebel Mistress nowadays.
Marcus Skantz: I’m 24 and the music scene in my hometown was a couple of local bands, all between the ages of 12 to 17 playing this thing called “Rock Nights.” They were put together once every six months by the local music school we all went to after our regular school.
Oskar Hallberg: I’m 25 and I played in a metalcore band before. That scene was pretty tough and sometimes, we even had to pay to play at some big gigs!
Sleaze Roxx: I recently interviewed two members of the Finland based group Sixgun Renegades and they said that the music industry these days is more about running a business even on a very small scale like their band. As a relatively new band, have you noticed that aspect and if so, how has it impacted Rebel Mistress?
Marcus Skantz: It’s very much like running a business. I’m sure Marielle will tell you since she has the most knowledge about the business aspect and since she does most of that work. We wouldn’t have come this far without her. We would probably still be sitting in our rehersal room, arguing!
Marielle Tengström: Yes! I spend more time administrating than singing. But I also run a small rock jewelry business — check out marielledesigns.se — so I took to the booking and managing part pretty quickly because it felt most natural for me. I also never trust anyone else to do my job (laughs). But sometimes, it feels overwhelming and the boys better realize what I do for them. They’re a little bit spoiled! At the same time, we know that a manager can actually slow you down if you don’t find one that has the time for you. So I’ll keep doing this for a while until we get the right deal.
Oskar Hallberg: I can relate to what Sixgun Renegades are saying. It seems like record companies sometimes only want a band that have a lot of Facebook fans and can give them people that can buy the music.
Sleaze Roxx: When I look at Rebel Mistress’ Facebook account, most of the postings are in the Swedish language. For Rebel Mistress to break out on an international basis or even just out of Sweden, don’t you think that Facebook postings should be done in English and if so, why hasn’t this been done up to now?
Oskar Hallberg: We are very happy that people around the world like our music but since we are from Sweden and play in Sweden, it seems like most posts should be in Swedish. But we will change that in the future.
Daniel Westerlund: Most people that know about Rebel Mistress are from Sweden — but yeah, it’s probably a good idea to start posting in English soon.
Marcus Skantz: We are still operating on a small scale. Most of our followers are Swedish so naturally, our posts are in Swedish. I find it kind of pretentious to post in English when you have like ten followers — half of which are the band’s families. But as our followers grow, in numbers and internationally, we’ll probably start posting in English.
Marielle Tengström: This is the one thing we’ve had different opinions about. Marcus thought it felt pretentious for some reason? I have a facebookpage just for me and my projects outside Rebel Mistress that’s in English, and that has generated a lot of fans in other countries. So yeah, we have to look into this one more time! Stupid Marcus (laughs)!
Sleaze Roxx: I recently interviewed Crazy Lixx’s Danny Rexon and he opined that his band’s musical genre reached its peak a couple of years ago and has since been on the decline at least in Sweden. Do you consider Rebel Mistress to be more or less in the same musical genre as Crazy Lixx and do you agree or disagree with Rexon’s comments, and why?
Marielle Tengström: I can definetely see similarities between Crazy Lixx and us and I understand Rexon’s point. It’s sometimes frustrating that you’re almost born in the wrong time. But there is still a lot of countries where rock music is very big. And if we are playing only to be famous, we should have gone for what Avicii is doing. But I also see a big under representation of female fronted rock bands and there is a gap to fill there for sure! So I believe there still a chance to be successful.
Daniel Westerlund: Everybody knows that electronic music has grown really big, and like I said, metal is also really big. We play neither of those genres but it doesn’t really matter to me which genre is the biggest. We have people ready to party at our shows and that’s kind of all that matters to me!
Oskar Hallberg: Sure, but I think this music genre will never die and people will always listen to it
Marcus Skantz: I don’t know… Next question!
Sleaze Roxx: It seems that Rebel Mistress have mainly played shows in Stockholm or within a few hours of that city. Are there any plans to play outside of Sweden and if so, when do you think that will happen?
Oskar Hallberg: Of course! That’s the goal but we don’t really know when.
Daniel Westerlund: It would be awesome to play in other countries but it will probably not happen in 2015.
Marielle Tengström: We only had gigs planned in other cities like Malmö and Gotherburg this spring. But we would love to do a European tour to start with. But unfortunately, we haven’t booked anything yet because of the lack of time.
Sleaze Roxx: What has been the general reaction to Rebel Mistress’ self-titled debut EP so far and are you surprised in that regard?
Marielle Tengström: The reactions have been mostly positive. The rockers like the Mötley sound and I’ve got a lot of surprised and positive reactions that I’m a female who chose the dirty rock scene. “Hazy” is the song that people remember and we knew that that one was gonna be most successful with the crowd on gigs. It’s straight forward and easy to sing along even if you have not heard the song before.
Daniel Westerlund: It’s been great! If you dig rock and roll, you’ll dig Rebel Mistress.
Marcus Skantz: So far, I’ve only heard positive things about it and I’m super happy about that. I’m always surprised when people like something I do, but I thought the songs turned out very well and I really believed that people were going to like them. So far, they have.
Oskar Hallberg: We have received great responses! It’s really nice to hear! It makes us happy.
Sleaze Roxx: What are Rebel Mistress’ plans for the rest of 2015 and 2016?
Marielle Tengström: We have some gigs booked this autumn and we’re going in to the studio in October. Our next EP will be realesed this winter and we’re also doing a music video. In the spring, we will be promoting the new EP and playing as much as possible.
Marcus Skantz: We have a couple of shows to play this fall, a photo shoot, I think. After that, we are planning to record another EP. There are probably plans for a music video in there somewhere. I haven’t given too much thought to 2016 yet but, I guess, try to get more gigs, writing more songs and keep spreading our music.
Daniel Westerlund: Play some more shows and write more songs. We will also record a second EP which will hopefully be released before Christmas. We might also add a fith member to the band so stay tuned for that one.
Sleaze Roxx: For each of you, what are your three all-time favorite albums and why?
Marielle Tengström: I have to say ‘Appetite For Destruction’ because it contains my favourite Guns N’ Roses songs: “Welcome To The Jungle,” “Nightrain” and “Mr. Brownstone.” ‘Blizzard Of Ozzy — Ozzy Osbourne’s first album after he got kicked out of Black Sabbath — that also was with Randy Rhoads. I love “Mr. Crowley,” “Crazy Train,” “Goodbye to Romance” and “Suicide Solution.” And at last ‘Apocalyptic Love’ from Slash. I really like Myles Kennedy’s voice. “Anastasia,” “Crazy Life” and “Bad Rain” are just great. I wish I had written those songs.
Daniel Westerlund: That’s impossible to say but I’ll give three albums that I probably would count in my top ten. There’s ‘Appetite For Destruction’ which has it all — great riffs and solos, great sound, melodies, lyrics, great everything. Then there’s ‘Continuum’ by John Mayer, a timeless album with incredible musicianship. John Mayers’ guitar playing is just mind blowing. He’s got such a great feeling to it. Now, I listen to a lot of different genres, and I feel I’ve got to include a metal album on this list. One that I’ve listened to very much but that never seems to get old is ‘Asendancy’ by Trivium.
Marcus Skantz: Three albums — this is the hardest question by far but I think I’ll go with Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Appetite For Destruction’ because everything about it is so perfect — the songs, the sound, the feel and the attitude. Nirvana’s ‘Bleach’ — it’s for those times when you want to be not happy and The Ramones’ ‘Rocket To Russia’ because they’re The Ramones, enough said!
Oskar Hallberg: Periphery’s self-titled album — best album ever! Iron Maiden’s “Best Of.” The first album I got from my uncle at Christmas as a present was Born Of Osiris’ ‘A Higher Place’ — just great music and I love it.